What If Social Media Didn’t Exist? My 5 Day Experiment.
I’m on the bus on my way to work and I’ve barely looked up to see whether I’ve reached my stop. I’ve done the usual scroll through Facebook, posted my own photo on Instagram and read at least 2 different articles.
I’m at work and I can see my phone lighting up on the desk. I take a quick look with the idea of getting back to it, but 10 minutes later and I’ve already responded to a message.
I’m home, cooking dinner and I see my phone flash again as it sits near the pile of ingredients, chopping board and recipes. The TV is on and I’m half-heartedly trying to converse with my boyfriend whilst replying to a comment on Facebook.
Does this sound exhausting to you? It is… and it was.
For I don’t know how long, my phone has become an extension of my arm. The more I look around – the bus, the office cubicle, the bedroom, pretty much everywhere, someone is completely engrossed with their phone.
I never really thought I was addicted to technology until I watched this TedX talk. Since watching the clip, I felt disappointed. I felt disconnected to the ‘real world’ and I knew that it was time to do something about it. It felt like my attention span was getting smaller and smaller by the minute and my ability to sit still was pretty much non-existent. I craved stimulation. I relied on social media. This had to stop.
As always, curiosity got the better of me and I wondered what it would be like to live without my beloved social media. What if social media didn’t exist? Could I live without it for more than a day? What about 5 days? Would it improve my overall sense of wellbeing? And so it began – my ‘Social Media Free’ experiment. I even created a 5 minute video explaining all about it here.
So what does one do without Facebook and Instagram filling up the spare minutes of the day? Well you’re going to find out! Below is a sneak peak into my 5 days without social media. On Sunday night, Facebook and Instagram were deleted from my phone and blocks were placed on my computer.
– Instead of reaching for my phone first thing, I woke up for a snuggle with my man. Much better trade!
– A drive to the Gold Coast for a meeting with my accountant and I knew that I would struggle. It felt weird not having my phone to occupy me in the waiting room but I sat there patiently, just taking in the detail of my surroundings. It felt relaxing just to ‘be’.
– I head to the beach and grab some lunch without uploading the standard ‘beach shot’. It felt liberating (almost rebellious! Ha!). As I basked in the sun and watched the waves crash onto the shore, I became the observer again.
– On my drive back to Brisbane with the tunes blaring and sun streaming into the car – I had time to reflect on my day. Life felt good and I was able to really feel it in my bones.
– Every mouthful of dinner was mindfully consumed and the conversation was flowing. No distractions. I went to sleep that night with a deep sense of peace.
– Without the morning social media scroll, there was extra time for a sleep in before heading to work. Replacing that 20 minutes on my phone with sleep… Shit! It really is 20 minutes of my life that I’ve been able to get back.
– I felt focused and productive throughout my day without any distractions and interruptions.
– Emails were checked more often than normal to fill the void, but the tunes were cranked again on the commute home. I forgot how deliriously happy it makes me feel listening to music.
– There’s temptation to check Facebook when I get home and I quickly log in to see 38 notifications (YUCK!). Logging off, my heart flutters. This is testing me big time. The addiction is real!
– An hour-long yoga class connects me to my breath and body. There’s no pausing in the car afterwards to check my ‘feeds’. I drive straight home and drift off to sleep much earlier than usual.
– A productive day at work again. It’s such a busy day that I don’t even think about what I’m potentially missing out on in the online world.
– I have bounds of energy and my mind doesn’t feel as scattered come 3.30pm.
– On the bus ride home, I use the 30 minutes to visit the gorgeous websites/blogs that I love reading. It feels nice to let my interests guide me rather than being bombarded with information. Nothing is competing for my attention. I consciously make a decision to seek out the information.
– I try an Xtend Barre class (which I end up loving) and I feel the need to shout it from the rooftops. Without social media, I wait to tell my friends in person instead.
– Dinner and dishes are done early so I sit down and watch The Bachelor (my not so guilty pleasure). It’s been the first time in so long that I’ve sat down on the couch and watched something in its entirety. Me + my cuppa tea + Lindt dark chocolate = bliss! I fold my washing in the ad breaks, which normally wouldn’t be folded until the weekend.
– As I’m waiting for the bus this morning, the greenery that surrounds me is captivating. I wouldn’t have noticed it’s beauty had I been glued to my phone. I observe the other travellers on the bus and everyone’s heads are looking down. I haven’t been able to make eye contact with anyone except for the bus driver.
– Throughout the day I’m starting to feel the urge to check in again and there’s that fear of missing out on something. I resist the temptation and hang out (only 1 more day!).
– Thursday nights are my favourite as I head to a Beyonce inspired dance class after work. Thankfully I had already prepared most of tonight’s dinner the night before. Social media checks – zero. Increased productivity – to the max!
– Instead of getting sucked into the social media vortex, I curl up on the couch for another night of The Bachelor and my friend Lindt. I even do a bit of colouring in before I head to sleep and read a chapter of my book.
– I’m really enjoying this extra time up my sleeve, and the sense of having more headspace. I didn’t realise how consumed I was with what other people were doing.
– It’s the end of the working week and the need to feel ‘social’ is getting to me.
– I have a catch up with a group of friends, and I want to make sure we’re still going ahead with it tonight.
– A cheeky peak on my phone is all it takes to get my head into a spin. I quickly confirm the details on Facebook and close the window. (At this point, I still don’t have my apps downloaded on my phone so I use Safari instead).
– After a gorgeous night of food and friends, I head back home to check… My heart is almost racing with anticipation and I wonder whether I should just continue my social media free experiment (forever!). Do I really need it? Is it really that important to be connected online? I slowly make my way through all of the notifications and start my scrolling. I’m excited by all the news and info but it ends up exhausting me. I decide to carve out some time tomorrow to check it properly and respond to messages.
So there you have it! An eye-opening 5 days without social media. Since becoming more aware of my social media habits and trialling life without it, there have been many key lessons.
My biggest takeaway? It’s so easy to be swept up in the online world, and become disconnected from the ‘real world’. My time without social media gave me more quality time with loved ones and more purposeful conversations. I was able to sleep better, move more, and most importantly stop dreaming about getting things done, and actually follow through with doing them. There was less worrying about what other’s were doing and more focus on what I enjoy – you know, cooking nourishing meals, watching hilarious reality TV…I felt more calm, more connected, more productive and more inspired to enjoy the beauty of everyday life.
Marie Forleo was right, “If you’re always listening to the noise of the world, it’s impossible to hear the whispers of your soul”. Disconnecting from social media certainly has made me think about how I truly want to live.
With any lifestyle change, of course it takes time to implement these changes, but I sure am determined to do a lot less scrolling, and a lot more living.
Now, I would love to hear from you. Have you tried living without social media for a period of time? If yes, how did you go? If no, would you be willing to give it a crack?
I’ll finish off with another quotable quote from Marie – “Great things happen when you unplug from technology and plug into real life.”
Amen to that,